The language used in the 87-page manifesto, linked out in a social media post from an account that is believed to belong to one of the attackers, was similar to that used by ISIS and al Qaeda.
The manifesto is essentially a self-interview. Police believe this is the work of the primary suspect in this attack.
He talks about the attack being carried out with the blessing of the Reborn Knights of Templar, which is a reference to the Crusades, in the same way as we hear ISIS constantly referring to people from the west as the Crusaders. The idea of a leaderless network to inspire individual cells. That is textbook ISIS.
The language in the manifesto is deliberately almost playful at times, in a very provocative and incendiary way, and is clearly designed to provoke a horrific retaliation with the end goal being creating friction and all-out conflict between different populations in various western liberal democracies.
He also talks about wanting to precipitate civil war and this is exactly what we hear in al Qaeda’s manual, “The Management of Savagery,” or with ISIS's idea of eliminating the so-called “gray zone” of co-existence between Muslims and the West. The idea being that you use wanton acts of vicious savagery with the objective of causing retaliation, escalating violence and conflict in countries that have Muslim minorities. He’s trying to stoke tensions, to create a clash of civilizations.
To me, there’s almost a symbiotic relationship happening right now between extreme terrorists on the far-right and between some of these other terrorist organizations that we’re more familiar with.
The other thing that’s interesting, and disconcerting, frankly, is how much of the language and ideas he talks about have also seeped into mainstream political rhetoric.
He talks a lot about the idea of invasion, that Muslim migrants are invading white Western countries. He talks about the birth rate, the idea of replacement, that white culture is being replaced. We’ve heard such words coming from the President of the United States. We’ve heard them coming from far-right governments in Europe, whether it be Italy, whether it be Hungary.
Based on conversations I’ve been having with Muslims throughout the day, this is something that’s deeply concerning, the idea that the kind of hate speech that belonged in far-right ideology has permeated into more mainstream public discourse.
When you look at the zeitgeist and the rise of the far right in Europe and the US, ideas that were once considered as taboo to talk about are now being flaunted and public discourse invariably sets a tone.
There’s not necessarily a clear linkage in terms of causality -- not everyone who hears this sort of rhetoric picks up a gun and goes and kills 49 people in a mosque -- but you can’t look at one without looking at the broader environment in which it’s thriving.